Cornelis Cornelisz. van  Haarlem  - The Labours of Hercules
The Labours of Hercules
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Cornelis Cornelisz. van Haarlem (Haarlem 1562 - Haarlem 1638)

Cornelis Cornelisz., known as Cornelis van Haarlem, was born the son of well-to-do parents in 1562 in Haarlem. According to Karel van Mander, he first studied with Pieter Pietersz. in Haarlem and, at the age of seventeen, travelled to Rouen and then to Antwerp, where be became a pupil of Gillis Coignet for a year. In 1580-81, he settled in Haarlem and in 1583 received his first official commission from the city for a militia company portrait of the Haarlem Civic Guard (Frans Halmuseum, Haarlem). Around this time he became friends with Karel van Mander and Hendrick Goltzius and together they established the so-called Haarlem Academy, which encouraged its members to “study from life”. Between 1590 and 1593 he carried out an important municipal commission for four large pictures to decorate the Prinsenhof in Haarlem. Subsequently he received numerous major commissions: for the Civic Guard (1599), the Commanders of the Order of St. John (1617 and 1624), the Court of the Stadholder in The Hague (1622) and the hospital of the Heilige Geesthuis (1633).

Some time before 1603, Cornelis married Maritgen Arentsdr. Deyman, the daughter of a burgomaster. In 1605 he inherited one third of his wealthy father-in-law’s estate and, the following year, his wife died, childless. He also had an illegitimate daughter, Maria, who later married Pieter Jansz. Bagijn, a silversmith, and their son, Cornelis Bega, became a painter. From 1613 to 1619 Cornelis served as a regent of the Old Men’s Home in Haarlem. From 1626 until 1629 he was a member of the Catholic St. Jacob’s Guild and, in 1630, along with other artists he was involved in the formulation of new regulations for the St. Luke’s Guild in Haarlem. He died on 11 November 1638.